Posts Tagged ‘drie fonteinen’

imperial stout tasting, beer bargains

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

 

after being sidelined with a nasty head cold last week, I celebrated getting back on my feet by cracking open a bottle of my imperial stout for a tasting.

  • after experiencing some carbonation issues, I hit the bottles with some wine yeast and set them down for a couple of weeks.  the new yeast did the trick, eating up the residual bottling sugar I had added earlier and carbonating up the bottles in a heartbeat.  my latest gravity reading indicates that the beer’s FG didn’t shift (it stayed at 1.02), so hopefully I won’t have to worry about the wine yeast eating some unfermented sugars and overcarbing the bottles (I’m still planning on testing a bottle every week for the next month though).
    • appearance: pitch black, even when held to the light.  1″ tan head fades to 1/4″ after a few minutes but sticks around.  a great looking beer.
    • aroma: intense roastiness with a bit of booze on the back end, slight hint of sweetness
    • taste: creamy mouthfeel with a sharp, dry finish and carbonic bite.  great roasted malt flavors but not a ton of complexity.
    • overall: this beer still isn’t my favorite, but the champagne yeast worked great and really transformed this beer.  it’s amazing how strong carbonation can completely change a beer’s profile.  hopefully the finishing bite created by the wine yeast carbonation will mellow over time.  I’m looking forward to comparing this to the version I finished with brett in the keg.

 

while kicking back with the aforementioned brew, I got to thinking about the frenzy surrounding “elite” beers here on the west coast – beers that are either exceedingly hard to find locally or costly when they do come around.  I know I’m not alone in feeling envious of locals of prominent foreign breweries who can cruise by their neighborhood watering hole at their leisure and pick up some extraordinary beverages for a song.  however, I have also come across consistent beer “bargains” on a weekly basis that (in my opinion) match the quality and complexity of their elusive style counterparts, often for a fraction of the price.

 

 

  • for example, anyone even remotely interested in craft beer has at one time lusted after a bottle of westvleteren 12, a limited-availability belgian quad that is admittedly delicious.  however, instead of shelling out $20+/bottle online or booking a flight to belgium, I recommend heading down to your local and grabbing a bottle or two of st bernardus abt 12, an equally tasty quad that goes for $4.99/bottle around here.  the similarities between the two beers are striking, which makes sense when you consider their shared history.
  • additionally, it seems that everyone and their cousin has a hard-on for anything cantillon these days.  it doesn’t help that the van roy’s creations are nowhere to be found in the state.  I have to admit, they might be my favorite foreign brewery and put out some incredible beers, but instead of chasing down cantillon’s geuze and paying a mint for it, I recommend nabbing some bottles of drie fonteinen’s oude geuze instead.  in fact, although cantillon’s kriek is safely in my top five beer list, I have to admit that I prefer drie fonteinen’s geuze to its cantillon competitor (and I’m not the only one). plus, I can easily get 375s of it (seasonally) for just $9.99, which in my opinion might be the best beer deal out there these days.
  • further, I know of a ton of guys who love orval with a passion.  however, it’s kind of hard to get behind spending $5-6 a bottle for a session beer during a barbecue.  plus, I’m never too sure how long my bottles have been sitting in some hot truck or warehouse on their way over.  as an inexpensive local alternative I recommend checking out green flash’s rayon vert, which is less than half the cost and tastes to me what I would imagine orval would be like from the source.  I reviewed both earlier HERE. 
  • other beers I could generally label as “bargains” when considering quality, price, and accessibility would have to be rodenbach grand cru ($9.99/750mL), old rasputin imperial stout ($8.50/4 12 oz.), and bigfoot barleywine ($14/6 12 oz.).  again, this is only on the west coast, so your results may vary.
  • as much as I like hitting the road to hunt down an elusive regional favorite, it’s reassuring to know that many world-class beers from around the globe are readily accessible from my own back yard.  enjoy!

imperial stout bottling, big bear lake

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

last week I finally managed to find some time to bottle/keg the imperial stout I has put together a while back.

  • primary fermentation appeared active for a month after pitching the WLP001 starter, and after visible fermentation tapered off I left the beer in primary for another six weeks.  the beer had an FG of 1.02 for an abv of 9.1%, and the sample I tasted was rich and malty, with a great roasted malt finish.  it will be interesting to see if the carbonation brings out any of the homegrown hops I tossed in there…

also, last weekend I accompanied the APs, the MLs, and HL up to big bear lake for a long weekend of (man-made) snow and relaxation.

  • after a surprisingly great day on the slopes, we cruised by big bear mountain brewery. the only thing that had changed since our last visit was their beer lineup – a decent pils and dopplebock had transformed into a honey blonde and chocolate porter (the latter of which I believe is contract brewed).  despite the mediocre beer and service, the atmosphere was comfortable and very local, and was a great setting in which to pour some pitchers and eat a tray full of miscellaneous fried veggies.
  • the next night things picked up a little at nottingham’s tavern, where pitchers of mission’s shipwrecked DIPA accompanied decent food, a passionate cover band experience, and some shuffleboard.
  • I also managed to stow away some choice beers for the trip, and cracked open specialties like an ’08 drie fonteinen oude geuze, an ’08 brown shugga, an ’08 bourbon county stout, and an ’05 pannepot grand reserva while relaxing back at the cabin.  it’s a rough life!

              

             

              

              

cuvee de banning

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

last weekend I finished up the last of my four “house” sours – cuvee de banning.

  • after finishing my first “american-style” sour (cuvee de cabrillo), I decided to toss four “house” sours into my brewing pipeline, such that after a year’s time, a new year-aged sour would be available for bottling every three months.  the pipeline is filled as follows:
  • as noted above, banning is a sour blond ale inspired by various recipes for russian river’s temptation.  the recipe is as follows (for 13 gals @ 80% efficiency):
    • 26.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 94.55 %
      1.50 lb White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 5.45 %
      3.00 oz Saaz [2.00 %] (60 min) Hops 7.6 IBU
      0.50 oz Saaz [2.00 %] (30 min) Hops 1.0 IBU
      0.50 oz Saaz [2.00 %] (5 min) Hops 0.3 IBU
  • I used some of my stash of aged hops from seven bridges for a sub-10 IBU count and pitched a starter made from a vial of white labs WLP655 and dregs from bottles of RR’s consecration, two brothers’ askew, and drie fonteinen oude geuze.  after 4-5 days, the starter had developed a healthy pellicle and was smelling pretty funky when I pitched it at 72F.
  • I also had MV over and whipped up a batch of belgian blonde for his upcoming wedding, and he took home a bag of spent grains to make some dog treats.  congrats MV, and enjoy the brew!

lambic brew session

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

at long last, I finally got around to brewing the lambic I had planned out weeks earlier.

  • aside from a few mash temp hiccups, everything went smoothly.  due to the constant attention demanded by the turbid mash, I only managed to snap pics after the boil started.
  • see below for my notes on the brew schedule and the results of the brewday (in bold):
    • LAMBIC TURBID MASH SCHEDULE (12-13 gal)
    • 15lb belgian pils (60%)
    • 10lb unmalted white wheat (40%) (+ a couple handfuls of rice hulls)
    • 1. 12lb/gal = (25lb total grist)/(2.1 gal. @143F) = 113F mash (overshot, hit 122F)
    • 2. hold 113F mash for 10 min
    • 3. add boiling water to get to 136.4F (hit 140->135 during this step)
    • 4. remove 0.57 gal. to kettle 2, heat to 176F at most
    • 5. add boiling water to get to 149F, hold for 15 min
    • 6. remove 2.27 gal. to kettle 2, keep at 176F at most
    • 7. add boiling water to get to 161.6F, hold for 20 min (hit 161)
    • 8. first runnings (2.83 gal) to boil kettle
    • 9. kettle 2 back into mash tun @ 176F = mash @~167F (kettle 2 was at 185(!), added cool water to bring it down to 173, mash at 159 when added)
    • 10. hold mash @167F for 20 min (only got up to 161, held for 20)
    • 11. vorlauf and sparge with 185F water (sparge water varied from 179->190 while backup boiling water was added)
    • 12. ~end up with 18.5 gal wort~ (ended with 19 gal)
    • 13. divide wort into keggle (13.5 gal) and turkey fryer (5 gal) (14 in keggle, 5 in fryer, added foam reducer)
    • 14. add 5.17 oz old/low AA hops to keggle @ start of boil (4.65 hops total – .5 willamette 4AA 4yr, 1.6 saaz 2.6AA 4 yr, 2.6 saaz 3.2AA 2 yr)
    • 15. boil down to ~12-13 gals* (boiled down to 12.8 gal in 2 hr 40 min)
  • as you can see, hitting some of the temps proved challenging, but the boil didn’t take long at all – with the garage door closed, my system managed to boil off over 2 gallons an hour, without using the bucket heater.  I stopped the boil when I hit an OG of 12.9 brix = 1.05.
  • as for bugs, I pitched a smack pack of wyeast’s roselare blend and a vial of white labs’ sour mix 1, and added dregs from a 375ml bottle of drie fonteinen oude geuze (i believe it was bottled in 2009).  I pitched at 74F.
  • it took a couple of days to see some airlock activity, and the brew is chugging along nicely at the moment at around 66-68F.  expect updates in about a year…

week[end] in review 03/09-03/14

Monday, March 15th, 2010

ok, so this weekend in review is more like a week in review since AP and I met up with CB, JVG, AF, DH, and JC at la trappe on tuesday.

  • although their prices made la trappe more of a special occasion destination during these recession days, their beer list was thorough (as always) and I had to resist getting some fries and mussels.
  • I couldn’t resist the drie fonteinen geuze though – what an amazing, complex beverage.  picked up another bottle of it at bottle barn recently for under $15 – I can’t think of a better beer at that price point.
  • later that week I dropped by CB’s to sample some of his latest brews and see how my steam/common was doing.
  • CB said it had cleared up, and after a quick pour I was happy to confirm.  what can I say, it is damn tasty.
  • the weekend led AP and I down to LA, where we rolled over to naja’s with AP for some fish tacos, great beers (hop 15, pliny, old chub, etc.), friendly staff, and fantastic weather.
  • and on a side note, I learned a thing or two this weekend, compliments of the mad fermentationist (luckily, one of the ‘things’ was not the belgium/belgian issue).

la trappe

Friday, August 21st, 2009
bar lineup at la trappe

bar lineup at la trappe

Rolled over to La Trappe last night with CB and Dave.  As of late, the place has been getting super crowded, to the point where I actually walked away a couple weekend nights when it was shoulder-to-shoulder and rolled over to Rogue instead.  I like La Trappe though, great belgian selection on draft and in bottles, and the staff is usually pretty friendly.  Oh yeah, the food is great here too.  Overall it’s always near the top of my list when I’m in North Beach.

  • the place was full underground when we walked in, but we managed to get a table within 5-10 minutes.  note to self – come here on weeknights, screw the weekend crowd.
  • busted out Temptation on draft – great as always, dunno how vinnie does it.
  • followed by Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze – awesome, super dry. it was interesting to follow temptation with this one.  a discussion ensued as to whether any american brewer would sack it up and start exclusively doing geuzes/lambics/spontaneously fermented beers.  more on that topic later.
  • finished off the night with  Gouden Carolus Cuvée Van De Keizer. great belgian strong, a year or two more in the bottle and it would be out of control.
a round of temptation

a round of temptation

geuze: my favorite style? hard to say...

geuze: my favorite style?

great way to finish up the night

great way to finish up the night